Curnow History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Cornwall, one of the original six "Celtic nations" is the homeland to the surname Curnow. A revival of the Cornish language which began in the 9th century AD has begun. No doubt this was the language spoken by distant forebears of the Curnow family. Though surnames became common during medieval times, English people were formerly known only by a single name. The way in which hereditary surnames were adopted in medieval England is fascinating. Many Cornish surnames appear to be topographic surnames, which were given to people who resided near physical features such as hills, streams, churches, or types of trees, many are actually habitation surnames. The name Curnow is a local type of surname and the Curnow family lived in the county of Cornwall in southwest England.

Early Origins of the Curnow family

The surname Curnow was first found in St. Stephens in Brannell, Cornwall. "The manor of Brannell was granted by King John to Richard Earl of Cornwall and king of the Romans. By Richard it was given to Richard de Cornubia, or Cornwall, his natural son by Joan de Valletort, widow of Sir Alexander Oakeston. William de Cornwall of Court in this parish, is mentioned by Prince as first prior of Bewley; and afterwards in 1272, abbot of Newham in Devon. He is represented as living to a great age, and as dying in the year 1320 blind and decrepid. Godfrey de Cornwall, a carmelite friar who distinguished himself as the author of several learned works about the year 1300, is said to have been born at [the]Court [manor house]." [1]

Early History of the Curnow family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Curnow research. Another 195 words (14 lines of text) covering the years 1180, 1513, 1601, 1452, 1467, 1581, 1659, 1613, 1644, 1842, 1605, 1675, 1610, 1662, 1632, 1673, 1660, 1662, 1655, 1698, 1692, 1693, 1689, 1698, 1654, 1717, 1685, 1689, 1468, 1537, 1502, 1503, 1514, 1515, 1505, 1506, 1515, 1516, 1519, 1520 and 1797 are included under the topic Early Curnow History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Curnow Spelling Variations

Cornish surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The official court languages, which were Latin and French, were also influential on the spelling of a surname. Since the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. Lastly, spelling variations often resulted from the linguistic differences between the people of Cornwall and the rest of England. The Cornish spoke a unique Brythonic Celtic language which was first recorded in written documents during the 10th century. However, they became increasingly Anglicized, and Cornish became extinct as a spoken language in 1777, although it has been revived by Cornish patriots in the modern era. The name has been spelled Cornwall, Cornelle, Cornell, Cornwell, Cornewall, Cornal, Cornale, Cornevale, Carnwell, Carnewell, Carnville, Carnevale, Cornhall, Cornehall, Cornhale, Cornwale, Curnow (from native Cornish word) and many more.

Early Notables of the Curnow family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family at this time was Thomas Cornwall, High Sheriff of Herefordshire in 1452 and 1467; Jane Cornwallis (1581-1659), an English lady whose private correspondence (1613-1644) were published in 1842, mother of Frederick Cornwallis; Thomas Cornwallis (c. 1605-1675), an English politician and colonial administrator, one of the first Commissioners of the Province of Maryland; Frederick Cornwallis, 1st Baron Cornwallis Bt KT (1610-1662), an English peer, MP and Privy Councillor; Charles Cornwallis, 2nd Baron Cornwallis of Eye (1632-1673), an English landowner...
Another 82 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Curnow Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Curnow family to Ireland

Some of the Curnow family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 31 words (2 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Canada Curnow migration to Canada +

Amongst the settlers in North America with this distinguished name Curnow were

Curnow Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • Mr. Thomas Curnow, (b. 1886), aged 18, Cornish miner travelling aboard the ship "New York" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 24th July 1904 en route to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada [2]
  • Mr. Thomas Henry Curnow, (b. 1874), aged 31, Cornish miner travelling aboard the ship "St Paul" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 30th July 1905 en route to Rossland, British Columbia, Canada [2]

Australia Curnow migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Curnow Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. James Curnow, (b. 1804), aged 37, Cornish gardener travelling aboard the ship "William Jardine" arriving in Port Jackson, New South Wales, Australia on 23rd December 1841 [3]
  • Mrs. Susannah Curnow, (b. 1803), aged 38, Cornish settler travelling aboard the ship "William Jardine" arriving in Port Jackson, New South Wales, Australia on 23rd December 1841 [3]
  • Miss Ellen Curnow, (b. 1837), aged 4, Cornish settler travelling aboard the ship "William Jardine" arriving in Port Jackson, New South Wales, Australia on 23rd December 1841 [3]
  • Miss Emeline Curnow, (b. 1839), aged 2, Cornish settler travelling aboard the ship "William Jardine" arriving in Port Jackson, New South Wales, Australia on 23rd December 1841 [3]
  • Mr. James Curnow, (b. 1804), aged 37, Cornish gardener, from Gulval, Cornwall, UK travelling aboard the ship "William Jardine" arriving in New South Wales, Australia on 23rd December1841 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Curnow migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

  • Mr. Davie Curnow, (b. 1874), aged 1, Cornish settler departing on 12th October 1875 aboard the ship "Caroline" going to Marlborough, New Zealand arriving in port in 1875 [5]
  • Mr. John N. Curnow, (b. 1864), aged 11, Cornish settler departing on 12th October 1875 aboard the ship "Caroline" going to Marlborough, New Zealand arriving in port in 1875 [5]
Curnow Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mrs. Martha Curnow, (b. 1847), aged 25, Cornish settler departing on 26th April 1872 aboard the ship "Celestial Queen" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 30th July 1872 [6]
  • Mr. William Curnow, (b. 1846), aged 26, Cornish labourer departing on 26th April 1872 aboard the ship "Celestial Queen" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 30th July 1872 [6]
  • Mr. Zachariah Curnow, (b. 1871), aged 1, Cornish settler departing on 26th April 1872 aboard the ship "Celestial Queen" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 30th July 1872 [6]
  • William Curnow, aged 26, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Celestial Queen" in 1872
  • Martha Curnow, aged 25, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Celestial Queen" in 1872
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Curnow (post 1700) +

  • James Curnow, well known American music composer for concert bands, brass bands, vocal and instrumental solos & ensembles
  • Bob Curnow, American musician
  • T. A. Curnow, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Kansas, 1920 [7]
  • Neil Stephen Curnow (b. 1982), English cricketer
  • Jack L. Curnow (b. 1910), English professional footballer
  • Andrew William Curnow, Australian ninth bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Bendigo in regional Victoria
  • Rupert Colman Curnow (1898-1950), Australian politician
  • Alan Curnow, British former racing driver
  • Thomas Allen Munro Curnow ONZ CBE (1911-2001), New Zealand poet and journalist
  • Edward Curnow (b. 1989), Australian rules footballer

HMS Repulse
  • Mr. Samson J Curnow, British Ordinary Telegraphist, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking [8]


The Curnow Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: La Vie Durante
Motto Translation: During life.


  1. ^ Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print
  2. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_ellis_island_1892_on.pdf
  3. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, May 30). Ships' Passenger Lists of Arrivals in New South Wales on (1828 - 1842, 1848 - 1849) [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_nsw_1838_on.pdf
  4. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_bounty_nsw.pdf
  5. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, April 30). Emigrants to other ports, 1872 - 84 [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/new_zealand_assisted.pdf
  6. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, April 30). Emigrants to Auckland 1872-80 [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/new_zealand_assisted.pdf
  7. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 28) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  8. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html


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